3D printers are used extensively in automotive, aerospace and consumer goods industry applications to validate form. Over the last three decades considerable business and technical experience has been built up in enterprises that use this technology. On this foundation, and now that prices are falling, many more machines are being put into service.
Not only have 3D printers become less expensive, their capabilities have evolved. Machines that can print titanium, aluminium, silver and now carbon fibre, are revolutionizing many businesses including, for example, jewellery making, by enabling production of shapes and designs that could not be made by conventional techniques.
The opportunity to show people what a design will look like, for example by making a plastic example first, allows people to acquire often-unique pieces with no risk of disappointment or surprise at the outcome.
The same idea is current in the life sciences industry where dentists will soon be able to produce perfect crowns on demand from in-house machines, while other types of medical implant could be literally made to measure.
There are opportunities throughout these developments for new types of services that will evolve to help companies make the most of the technology. Manufacturing is entering a renaissance where start-ups can produce brilliantly designed high quality products without the need for a factory.